Downingtown West, Pottsgrove stood tall
The Whippets won the Class AAA state crown. The Falcons reached the AA final.
There were plenty of things to remember about this season in boys' soccer.
There was Downingtown West winning the PIAA Class AAA state title. There was Pottsgrove's magical run to the Class AA state final.
And there was Downingtown West senior defender Brian Forgue being named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas all-American for the second straight season.
Here are some of the highlights of the season:
Team of the year
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Downingtown West is Southeastern Pennsylvania's top team, regardless of classification or league.
Few teams in the nation accomplished what the Whippets did. Downingtown West (26-1) finished the season fifth in the final ESPN Rise Fab 50 national rankings. The Whippets were also ranked ninth in the NSCAA/Adidas national poll.
Downingtown West concluded the season with a 16-game winning streak. It defeated Peters Township, 2-1, in the Class AAA state final.
The Whippets' lone loss came to West Chester Henderson on Sept. 29. They outscored foes by 62-5 after that setback. For the season, Downingtown West posted 19 shutouts.
Coach of the year
One might assume a coach would have to win at least a league championship to earn this honor. Not this season.
La Salle's Bob Peffle deserved the award after leading the Explorers to an 11-8 record and Catholic League championship appearance.
Peffle has a great record, but this may have been his best performance on the sideline, better than even his back-to-back Catholic League titles in 2005 and 2006 and national ranking.
Starting three freshmen, the Explorers didn't score a goal in their first two games. If that wasn't disappointing enough, La Salle lost five of its first eight matches. But, by season's end, Peffle's squad was the team no one wanted to face.
The Explorers upset St. Joseph's Prep, 4-3, in a shoot-out by penalty kicks in the PCL quarterfinals. Then Ryan Patrick's goal in the 10th minute gave La Salle a 1-0 victory over the defending league champion Father Judge in the semifinal.
The Explorers came close to winning their third title in four seasons before losing a 1-0 decision to North Catholic in the final.
Pottsgrove put its entire athletic department on the map. The Falcons came one victory shy of winning their school's first non-band competition state title. Susquehannock defeated Pottsgrove, 1-0, in the Class AA state championship game.
While the Falcons (19-4) were disappointed, their season was better than many people expected. Pottsgrove had never won a District 1 Class AA playoff game before this season.
Neshaminy and Lower Merion met twice in the postseason. On both occasions, the Neshaminy Redskins won in a shoot-out by penalty kicks. After having played 110 minutes to a 1-1 stalemate, Neshaminy outpointed Lower Merion, 3-1, in a shoot-out in the District 1 Class AAA semifinals.
Then, following a 2-2 stalemate in a Class AAA state quarterfinal, the Redskins edged the Aces, 4-2, in another shoot-out.
The Inquirer TOP 10
FINAL, BOYS' SOCCER
Previous rank in parentheses.
1. Downingtown West (1) 26-1
The PIAA Class AAA state champion Whippets were ranked fifth in the final ESPN Rise Fab 50 national rankings.
2. Neshaminy (2) 16-7-2
Once considered underachievers, the Redskins came one victory shy of advancing to the Class AAA state final.
3. Lower Merion (3) 18-3-1
Two of the Aces' setbacks came in penalty-kick losses to Neshaminy.
4. Central Bucks East (4) 19-5-1
The Patriots advanced all the way to the Class AAA semifinals.
5. North Catholic (5) 16-2-3
The Falcons were the Catholic League and District 12 Class AAA champions.
6. Father Judge (6) 15-3-1
The PCL Red Division champion Crusaders have won 37 games since the start of the 2007 season.
7. Strath Haven (7) 15-3-2
Quick, athletic and always attacking, the Panthers created matchup problems for opponents.
8. Pottsgrove (8) 19-4
The Class AA state runner-up Falcons put Pottsgrove's athletic department on the map. They came one victory shy of winning their school's first non-band competition state title.
9. Haverford School (9) 12-1-2
The Fords captured the Inter-Ac League title. Their lone setback came in the first game of the season.
10. Pennsbury (10) 14-5-1
The Falcons were the champions of a competitive Suburban One National Conference.
- Keith Pompey